How do you feel after the death of a friend? Terry, a good friend of mine, passed away on Saturday after being sick for a number of years. I went to his funeral on Tuesday. Being a financial planner, I of course thought, did he fund his irrevocable life insurance trust? But it wasn’t all business, don’t worry.
I’m lucky because I got to spend a good number of years with this gentleman. He was really kind, helpful and fun. Terry was one of my mentors. He was instrumental in teaching me how to make a small business successful. He’s also the one who convinced me to move to where my family and I now live. That was one of the best things that ever happened to us as a family and I have Terry to thank for it.
Why was Terry so kind to me?
I don’t know. He really didn’t get anything out of it – at least nothing tangible. I wasn’t the only one who told stories like that at the funeral. He was well loved. He’ll be sorely missed.
I don’t know if you’re like me, but after something like this happens, I usually take a harder look at how I spend my time. I try to make the best use of it that I can. My guess is, if you’ve ever experienced losing someone close to you, you’ve gone through the same process.
Why am I writing about this to you?
I’m writing this because we have a wonderful opportunity to leverage difficult and painful situations much more than we do.
You see, even though I get motivated after things like this happen, that motivation fades after a few days. The routines of the day intrude on my best intentions. I go back to autopilot. But I want it to be different this time. And I want it to be different for you too if your experiences parallel my own.
It occurs to me (for the first time ever) that the real problem here is human nature – a tough adversary.
Our primal code works really hard to get us to focus on the here-and-now and forget about the future. Why? Because back in the caveman days, that was the only way to survive.
Today, we don’t have the same pressures that Fred Flintstone and Barney Rubble faced. But we still get a huge payoff when we allow the small details of life to swallow up our day.
What is the payoff?
Nobody wants to face his/her own mortality. As long as we keep our focus on the little issues of today, we don’t have to worry about tomorrow (and hence our mortality). Don’t get me wrong. It’s great to understand how a mortgage works. But let’s think “big picture” too.
I believe the only solution to this is to have a life plan. A life plan is a written document that includes your values and goals and what you want to achieve in your life. My wife and I worked out such a plan about two years ago.
Since then, so much has changed that we really have to make a new one. (I hope to do it this weekend when she finally comes home from a very long trip overseas.)
There is nothing wrong with changing your goals. Even if you aren’t 100% sure of what your goals are now, write down your plan. You really short-change yourself when you don’t have a written life plan in place.
Of course, having a written plan is no guarantee that you will execute it perfectly. But there is no question about it – if you have a plan, it will be much easier to achieve your goals and dreams than if you do not have a written plan.
I don’t know why that is but I do know that once we write goals down, they magically become much easier to achieve. Need an example?
A few weeks ago, I told you that I tried surfing for the first time. On that day, a new life goal was born – my goal was to actually stand up and ride a wave.
On Monday morning, I woke up very early and took a surfing lesson. Wouldn’t you know it? Indeed, I stood up and surfed a wave all the way in. It was exhilarating – or should I say, “totally rad”?
I went home, showered and got to my office by 8:30 AM. I wasn’t there for more than three minutes before the phone rang. It was Terry’s office telling me about his death.
At first, all the joy of that ride left my heart. I was sorry that I even went out that day. Then when I thought about it, I realized that enjoying life is indeed the best way to honor my friend Terry. Riding that wave was a tribute to him. It wouldn’t have happened had I not created that goal, had it firmly in mind and written it down.
Do you have a life plan? Has it helped you achieve your goals? How?